Posted December 5, 2013 by Strensa in Christmas

Making the healthy choice: How to stay in shape over the festive period

exercise this christmas
exercise this christmas

We all know the temptations that come our way over the festive period, whether it’s the canapés that look so delicious, the drinks that flow freely at the office party or the chocolates that you are offered every time you pay your obligatory annual visit to the relatives.

And with the festive season appearing to start earlier and earlier, all that hard work in the gym, or those hour spent clocking up running miles, can quickly be eroded as the scales tip towards the red zone and your waist band digs in just a little tighter than before.

Planning ahead

With a little thought and planning, however, it is possible to enjoy the festivities, sample the goodies and still maintain the fitness levels you have been working so hard to achieve all year. Here’s how.

One of the biggest problems you are likely to face in your quest for fitness, at any time of the year, is time to get a quality training session in. The festive season, however, offers you plenty of opportunity.

Join a Santa Run

Instead of having a lie-in on your first day of the holiday, get your running shoes on and go for a long run or a bike ride. This will help you unwind from the hectic last few days in the office, as well as prepare for the onslaught of festivities that lie ahead.

A lot of areas of the UK have seasonal fun runs or even Christmas swims. Sign up for one of these and the motivation to cut down on drinks and chocolates will increase dramatically!

On Christmas day itself, suggest that the whole family goes for a game of football or to throw a Frisbee around in the local park. It is amazing how into it everyone will get, and you will certainly burn some calories in the process. You could even challenge friends to meet up and make it a mammoth hour or so of sporting activity.

Sneak in a work out

If the gym is your thing, then find a time when everyone else is busy and not going to miss you for an hour or so. This might coincide with your partner/wife/husband taking the kids to the cinema or meeting friends for a catch-up. Rather than watching the Christmas films on television, get yourself to the gym. Normally, it will be fairly quiet, so you will be able to hog the machines and experiment with that new weights programme without interruption.

If running or the gym is not the thing for you, then try your hand at some functional fitness. That old tree in the garden needs cutting down, why not use the festive holidays as an opportunity to clear debris and tidy the garden? Digging a vegetable patch is a great way to whittle away the waistline and prepare the ground for spring sowing.

In the house, there are all sorts of tasks that will keep you moving and toned. After weeks of sedentary sitting in an office chair, it is amazing how good you will feel after lifting, bending, stretching and simply moving, as you do household chores.

Make the right choices

While keeping active is so important to maintaining your fitness levels, you can also take control over what you eat and drink. There are three simple things you can do that will make a difference.

1. Water with wine

Make sure that, throughout the festive period, you drink plenty of water. This is particularly true on a night out. If you intersperse an alcoholic drink with a glass of water, you will feel a lot better in the morning. It will also slow your snacking down, as you will feel full quicker.

2. A balancing act

On days you are going to be eating a big meal, or when you know that you are going to be picking at canapés all night long, make sure the rest of your day is balanced. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, so that you still have calories to play with when you gorge yourself later. There is no point trying to deny yourself; just keep it balanced.

3. The healthy option

Wherever possible, eat the healthier option. Steamed vegetables have fewer calories and are better for you than roasted vegetables. Hummus and carrots are healthier snacks than peanuts and fruit is as sweet, but less calorific than mince pies.

The festive season is a great time to party and let your hair down, but, with a little thought, it’s possible to stay in shape and not let all the hard work you’ve done during the year go to waste.